Review the main events, including nesting cycle milestones and other noteworthy incidents, in this historical timeline of the Hellgate Osprey cam.
Jump To Season Timeline:
Nesting Cycle Dates & Information
|Year||Egg #||Lay Date||Hatch Date||Fledge Date|
|2018||1||April 27||June 4||August 5|
|2||April 30||June 5||Deceased|
|3||May 30||June 8||Deceased|
|2017||1||April 26||June 3||Deceased|
|2||April 29||June 5||Deceased|
|3||May 2||June 7||Deceased|
|4||May 5||June 10||Deceased|
|2014||1||May 3||June 11||August 6|
|2||May 8||June 13||August 8|
|3||May 11||June 15||August 10|
|4||May 11||June 17||August 12|
|5||May 14||June 19||August 11|
|2012||1||May 12||June 19||August 16|
|2||May 15||June 21||August 14|
|3||May 20||June 24||August 19|
2021 Season Timeline
May 19, 2021: Iris Lays Third Egg Nine Days After Second Egg
Watch Iris hunker down and lay her third egg of 2021 at 4:36 A.M. on May 19. The third egg comes 9 days after her second egg was laid, well out of the normal range for egg-laying timing for Ospreys (one egg every 2–3 days). Iris has been receptive to mating with Louis, her mate from previous seasons, again this year, but Louis has not offered much in terms of investment at this nest site. Louis was Iris’s primary mate from 2016–2018, but switched mates in 2019 when a male at a nearby nest did not return. Without consistent investment (i.e., food supplementation, nest guarding, and incubation) by a mate, it is unlikely that Iris’s clutch will hatch.
May 10, 2020: Iris The Osprey Lays Second Egg In Hellgate Nest
After laying her first egg of the season on May 6, Iris hunkers down and lays her second egg on the morning of May 10. Iris did not incubate her first egg consistently, and we don’t know if the trend will continue for the second egg.
2020 Season Timeline
May 8, 2020: Second Egg Laid In Hellgate Osprey Nest
Iris hunkered down at 11:15 AM on May 8 to lay her second egg of the 2020 breeding season in Hellgate Canyon. This egg comes after Iris’s first egg (laid on May 2) was taken by a raven when the nest was left unattended on May 3. It remains to be seen if Iris will be able to manage incubation full time without an invested mate to provide her with food and help with nest defense; however, it seems unlikely.
May 2, 2020: Iris Lays First Egg Of 2020
On a windy day in Hellgate Canyon, Iris laid her first egg of the 2020 breeding season on May 2 after returning to Missoula, Montana, in early April.
2019 Season Timeline
May 13, 2019: Iris Suspends Incubation for 2019, New Male Sighted At Nest
It was an interesting weekend for Iris at the Hellgate Osprey nest. Despite Louis’s several visits on the morning of May 11, his extended absence from the nest has made it hard for Iris to incubate and find enough food to sustain herself over the past couple of weeks. This weekend, we saw Iris significantly reduce her time at the nest incubating her clutch, and she has since nearly stopped incubating altogether as of May 13, meaning the chance that the eggs will remain viable are less likely. In another turn of events, Iris has been receiving several visits from a new male over the past few days. Despite not being very receptive to his presence, she did take a fish that was delivered to the nest by this potential new suitor on May 11. Watch the clip to see how the interaction played out.
May 3, 2019: Male Osprey Louis Splits Time Between Two Nests
According to Montana Osprey Project leader Dr. Erick Greene, there is an interesting situation playing out at the Hellgate Osprey nest. It seems that Iris’s mate, Louis, isn’t putting all of his eggs in one basket. He is spending most of his time at nest upriver, where he’s also been spotted bringing in fish, copulating, and incubating eggs with a different female. One male performing the paternal duties at two nests isn’t unheard of in Ospreys, but it is quite rare. Splitting time will reduce Louis’s attendance at the Hellgate nest, and it remains to be seen if Iris will be able to raise any chicks successfully with a less-than-fully-committed mate. We don’t yet know how the breeding season will shake out for the Ospreys, but we’ll continue to provide updates as situation progresses.
April 29, 2019: Iris Lays Egg #2 In Hellgate Osprey Nest
At around 4:10 p.m. on April 29, Iris hovered over the nest cup and gave every indication that she laid the second egg of the 2019 Hellgate Osprey breeding season.
April 26, 2019: Iris Lays First Egg Of 2019 Breeding Season
Iris gave every indication that she laid her first egg this morning at around 6:40 AM. A wall of sticks and moss currently protect the inconspicuous egg from the eyes of anxious viewers, but perhaps a shift in nesting material will legitimize our egg-laying suspicions in near future. Watch the clip and see for yourself!
2018 Season Timeline
August 5, 2018: Lele Fledges From Hellgate Osprey Nest!
Lele has fledged!!! After a long 62-day nestling period, Lele finally got some air underneath that 5.5-foot wingspan. With both cameras focused on the nest, watch the young Osprey make a leap towards the riverfront and flap its way safely down below the nest platform. Way to go, Lele!
July 13, 2018: Hellgate Osprey Chick Named Lele (L’el’e)
During the live Q&A on July 12, Dr. Erick Greene revealed that the Hellgate chick has been named Lele (L’el’e) in honor of the aunt of Louis Adams! Remember that Louis is named after Louis Adams, a revered Salish Elder who gave a traditional blessing to the Missoula College site and the osprey nest, which rest atop traditional Salish grounds. Thankfully, the Adams family agreed to provide a name for Louis and Iris’s chick, continuing the strengthen the special tie between the Adams family, the Ospreys, and the Salish people. Good luck Lele!
July 12, 2018: Osprey Live Chat Q&A With Dr. Erick Greene and Rob Domenech
Join our experts from the Montana Osprey Project as they discuss the Osprey breeding season so far, answer questions from viewers, and provide insights on everything from Osprey migration to anatomy!
June 25, 2018: Second Youngest Osprey Chick Dies
We are sad to report that after several hours of inactivity in the nest the younger of the two Osprey chicks in the Hellgate nest has died, likely of starvation, after failing to recover from a roughly 24-hour absence of food at the nest between June 24 and June 25. High water levels and high turbidity in the Clark Fork River and surrounding waterways have proven difficult for fishing, and the Ospreys have not been able to provide enough food to support more than one chick at this point in the breeding season. Despite this sad news, multiple fish have since been brought to the nest, and the remaining chick looks strong and healthy.
June 11, 2018: Youngest Osprey Chick Dies
The youngest Osprey nestling appears to have perished from starvation after becoming too weak to recover from a 36-hour period without food over the weekend. While it is hard to watch, nestling mortality is not uncommon in wild bird nests. In Ospreys, older siblings have a higher survival rate than younger siblings, and nestling mortality is higher for the first 2-3 weeks after hatch during the peak period of growth. We all had hoped that all of the chicks would survive to fledge, but after after harsh fishing conditions left the nest without food for a day and a half, it is fortunate that the eldest two chicks have survived and been fed well since the hiatus.
June 8, 2018: Third And Final Osprey Egg Hatches In Hellgate
As the two eldest chicks are being fed, movement in the opposite end of the nest bowl confirms that the third egg has hatched after 36 days of incubation! As soon as the chick appears, Iris leaves the fish for Louis and proceeds to cover up her newest hatchling. This final hatch marks the end of the incubation for the Ospreys in Hellgate Canyon. Now the breeding pair’s efforts will be focused on keeping their brood well-fed and warm over the nestling period.
June 5, 2018: Two Chicks In the Hellgate Osprey Nest After Egg #2 Hatches
Egg #2 Has hatched! The second chick arrived overnight after 36 days of incubation in the egg. Take a peek at the bobble-headed hatchlings when Iris makes a quick trip off the nest.
June 4, 2018: First Egg Hatches In Hellgate Canyon
We have a hatch in Hellgate Canyon! Iris and Louis’s first egg hatched one the morning of June 4 after 38 days of incubation. Watch how Iris closely attends to her hatchling during its first moments out of the shell as she gently peels away bits of eggshell with her bill. This hatch marks a major milestone in the Ospreys’ third attempt at a successful breeding season since pairing up in 2016.
May 3, 2018: Iris Lays Egg #3 In Hellgate Osprey Nest
The Hellgate Ospreys have their third egg! All three are visible in this closeup when Iris stands up to check on her new addition just moments after the egg is laid. In a typical breeding year, we’ve seen Iris lay 3–4 eggs.
April 30, 2018: Ospreys Lay Second Egg In Hellgate Canyon
Louis and Iris’s second egg was first spotted around 8:00 AM cam time on April 30. Check out a close up on the pair’s two eggs during this fish delivery and incubation switch.
April 27, 2018: Iris Lays Her First Egg Of The 2018 Breeding Season
Just after 11:00 AM nest time, Iris stood up after a prolonged session in the nest and revealed her first egg of 2018!
April 16, 2018: Hellgate Osprey Cam Introduces New “Owl Pole” View
This new cam features a view of the “owl pole” just downriver from the nest site. It’s the top of a utility pole that has a plastic owl mounted on it below the spot where Louis and Iris often stop to eat their fish.
April 6, 2018: Iris Returns To Hellgate For 2018 Season
Iris returns to the Hellgate nest in Missoula, Montana, and reunites with her mate Louis on the nest! Last year, the pair spent nearly three weeks copulating and building up the nest before the first egg was laid.
April 4, 2018: Louis Returns To Missoula, Montana
An Osprey has landed in Hellgate Canyon! A male, likely Louis, was spotted on the Hellgate Osprey cam today at around 12:24 PM nest time. Now the waiting game begins for Iris, his mate. Louis was the early bird in 2017, arriving one day before Iris’s return on April 7. We’re hoping to see the pair reunited in the coming days.
2017 Season Timeline
September 11, 2017: Iris and Louis Migrate South For The Winter
It seems that Iris and Louis have moved on from Hellgate in search of warmer weather! The last confirmed sighting of Louis at the nest was on September 4th and Iris on September 8th. The last sighting of an Osprey in the Hellgate area was on September 10th. We wish the pair a safe migration, and we hope to see them back in Hellgate for next breeding season!
June 18, 2017: Remaining Two Nestlings Perish
We are sad to share that the difficult foraging conditions have resulted in the two remaining nestlings perishing from starvation over the weekend of June 17-18. The camera will continue to broadcast from the nest, allowing us to see what comes next for Iris and Louis.
June 17, 2017: Youngest Osprey Nestling Dies
We’re sad to share the news that this morning it appears that the youngest nestling in the Hellgate Osprey nest has not survived the night. Fishing has been very difficult due to high water on the Clark Fork River, and it’s likely there wasn’t enough food for all three nestlings to survive.
June 10, 2017: Egg #4 Is Last To Successfully Hatch In Hellgate
Egg #4 hatched on June 10, 2017, making it the fourth and final chick to hatch this year. Three healthy-looking chicks now populate the nest bowl (one chick unfortunately died from hypothermia after crawling out from underneath Iris in the middle of the night on June 6th). This marks that first time since 2014 that eggs have hatched in the Hellgate nest.
June 7, 2017: Egg #3 Hatches In Hellgate Osprey Nest
Get the first look at Louis and Iris’s third nestling just after it hatches from the egg on day 36 of incubation. There are now two chicks in the nest bowl and one egg to go!
June 6, 2017: One Osprey Nestling Perishes Overnight
Last night at around 1:30 AM MST one of the Osprey chicks crawled out from under a brooding Iris to the outer edges of the nest and remained there, unmoving. We’re sad to report that, after about 9 hours of inactivity, the chick is presumed to have died. The remaining chick continues to look active and vigorous in the nest bowl. Two unhatched eggs also remain in the nest (on day 35 and day 32 of incubation, respectively).
June 5, 2017: First Peek At Chick #2 After Early Morning Hatch
Get a glimpse at the second Osprey chick just hours after it hatched from the egg in the early morning hours of June 5, 2017 on day 37 of incubation.
June 3, 2017: Egg #1 Hatches on Hellgate Osprey Cam
Take a peek at Hellgate’s first Osprey chick of 2017. Here, the chick is tended to by Louis and Iris after hatching on day 38 of incubation.
May 5, 2017: Iris Lays Egg #4 On Early Morning In Hellgate
Watch the moment when Iris lays egg #4 in the early morning on May 5th.
May 2, 2017: Live Q&A with Dr. Erick Greene on the Hellgate Osprey cam
Watch a live Q&A session with University of Montana professor and Montana Osprey Project leader Dr. Erick Greene! Tune in as Dr. Greene explains how Iris & Louis (from our Hellgate Osprey cam) and the other Ospreys of western Montana’s upper Clark Fork River and its tributaries area play a key role in his research about heavy metal contamination in the state’s waterways. He also provides listeners with a history of the nest site and answers questions about Osprey nesting ecology!
May 2, 2017: Iris Lays Egg #3 In Hellgate Nest
Watch iris Lay Egg #3 in the Hellgate nest at around 6:30 A.M. on May 2, 2017. Ospreys can lay up to a total of 4 eggs, but Iris tends to lay between 2–3 eggs from year to year.
May 1, 2017: Egg #2 Laid In Hellgate Nest
The Osprey pair’s second egg was laid over the weekend (likely on Saturday, April 29), but some inconveniently placed branches have blocked a clear view into the nest. Today, two eggs were confirmed in the nest when Iris stood up from incubating to roll them.
April 26, 2017: First Egg Of 2017 Breeding Season Arrives In Hellgate
Take a look at the first Osprey egg of 2017 in Hellgate! The top of the egg can be seen during the close up before Iris surrounds it with nest substrate. Louis arrives shortly to take over incubation duties. April 26 is the earliest we’ve seen eggs on cam in Hellgate, preceding the previous record of April 29 in 2016.
April 12, 2017: Montana Osprey Project Extracts Netting from Hellgate Nest
Some concern was raised when Louis brought a strip of netting onto the Hellgate nest this morning. Thankfully, our partners at the Montana Osprey Project were on the ball; they secured a lift and removed the netting within a matter of hours. Dalit Guscio, a member of the MOP and Program manager for the UM Clark Fork Watershed Education Program (which brings watershed and osprey-based curriculum into the classrooms and gets students out into the field) can be seen in the video freeing the tangled netting from the nest.
April 7, 2017: Iris Returns To Hellgate
Watch the Ospreys’ reunion at the Hellgate nest after Iris, the female, makes her return one day after her mate, Louis. Almost immediately, the male begins nest restorations amidst the continued vocalizations of the female.
April 6, 2017: Louis Returns From Migration
Osprey Alert in Hellgate! This short visit from the male Osprey Louis this morning marks the first of the season. He only stays for about 20 seconds, but it’s a hopeful sign that the Ospreys in the area are finishing their spring migration and gearing up for another breeding season in Missoula, MT.
2016 Season Timeline
August 21, 2016: Raven Removes Last Egg From Osprey Nest
The last egg was snatched away by a raven while both Ospreys were off the nest. The egg was non-viable and has been sitting alone in the nest with the pair since the middle of June. This egg was the last remainder of an unsuccessful breeding season between the newly paired couple.
June 13, 2016: Second Damaged Egg Consumed And Removed From Nest
A second damaged egg in the nest was partially consumed by Louis today. The egg had a couple of dents in the side of it where something had impacted it and broken the shell. One egg remains, and depending on when it was laid it should hatch in 3-5 days if it is viable.
June 5, 2016: Damaged Egg Consumed At Nest
A damaged egg in the nest was broken and consumed by Iris, with the remaining eggshell carried off by Louis later that day. A second egg may still be damaged, and we are waiting to see whether it hatches soon. Two eggs remain.
June 3, 2016: Osprey Egg Appears Damaged
One of the remaining three eggs on the Hellgate nest appears to be damaged. We’re not sure what the extent of the damage is, or whether the egg will hatch. We’re getting close to the opening of the hatch window, so we should know soon. June 7 or 8 is the earliest projected hatch date.
May 18, 2016: New Male Named “Louis” In Honor Of Salish Elder
Iris’s new mate has been named “Louis” after Salish elder Louis Adams, a local cultural leader, historian, and friend of the Ospreys who recently passed away on April 25, 2016.
May 12, 2016: Egg #5 Laid In Hellgate Nest
Another egg was laid this evening, bringing Iris’ total output to 5 eggs on the year. Only three are still in the nest—one was stolen by a raven, another was broken and removed.
May 9, 2016: Egg #4 Arrives In Hellgate Nest
Iris laid another egg this afternoon, bringing her total output to 4 eggs on the season thus far.
May 5, 2016: Third Egg Laid By Iris
Iris laid a third egg in the Hellgate nest as her new mate continues to bring sticks and fish to her on the nest.
May 2, 2016: Second Egg Laid In Hellgate Nest
Iris continued to lay a second egg in the nest on May 2. One egg is now present in the nest after a Common Raven predated the first egg.
April 30, 2016: First Egg Taken By Common Raven
In a dramatic turn of events, the first egg laid by Iris this season was stolen by a raven from the nest!
April 29, 2016: First Egg Of 2016 Season With New Mate
Iris laid her first egg of the season on Osprey Cam on April 29. The paternity of the egg difficult to determine, as Iris has been seen mating with a new male this year after Stanley did not return. Watch this clip of their copulation attempt before the egg was laid.
April 4, 2016: Iris Returns To Hellgate Nest
Iris, the female Osprey from the Hellgate Cam nest, was seen back on the nest for the first time in 2016 on April 4.
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